South Africa defeated India by 10 runs with seven balls remaining in a morale booster victory in Nagpur, India today ahead of the triangular series against India and Pakistan in Sharjah. The Indians won the series 3-2.
Defending their total of 320, South Africa got off to a bad start with Henry Williams aggravating his shoulder tendon strain that had kept him out the team for 10 days.
Williams, however, dismissed captain Sourav Ganguly (6), caught hooking to Steve Elworthy at short fine leg, and then left the field soon afterwards.
Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid then set about decimating what was left of the South Africa attack. The pair put on 180 - the best second-wicket stand against South Africa - from 151 balls before Tendulkar swept Crookes to be caught by Elworthy in the deep in the 28th over.
Two deliveries later, Dravid was run out after a good throw-in by Pieter Strydom for Crookes to whip off the bails.
With both having scored at more than a run a ball - Tendulkar faced 89 deliveries with seven fours and four sixes and Dravid 70 with 11 fours - South Africa was suddenly back in the match.
Ajay Jadeja (10), Sridharan Sriram (12), Javagal Srinath (20), Robin Singh (29) Saba Karim and Nikhil Chopra (3) threatened to reach the target, but three Lance Klusener wickets and two run-outs - including a direct diving effort by Herschelle Gibbs - left the Indians wanting.
Earlier, Gibbs smashed 74 runs from 53 balls in a South African score of 320 for seven in 50 overs. Gibbs, who was dropped twice before being run out with a direct hit from former Indian skipper Sachin Tendulkar, hit 13 boundaries and one six for his score.
Later, Mark Boucher (68) and Klusener (75 not out) made the South African total possible with a devastating rearguard action.
Klusener, who put on 114 from 105 balls with Boucher in a record seventh-wicket stand, started slowly, needing 42 balls for his first 28 runs.
Then the left-hander reproduced his 1999 World Cup form as he smashed the next 47 runs off just 16 deliveries with eight fours and three sixes.
Put in to bat first, South Africa attacked the Indian bowling from the outset - a ploy to set a defensible target with allrounders Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis being rested and the five-match series already decided.
Gibbs, pinch-hitter Derek Crookes (14) and Hansie Cronje (38) all hammered away at eight runs to the over in whirlwind knocks at a cost of four wickets inside 15 overs.
Even the suicidal run-out of Gary Kirsten (1) in the second over failed to faze the South Africans.
Gibbs - who survived spilled catches by Anil Kumble when on 31 and by Sachin Tendulkar on 53 - put on 35 off 37 balls with Crookes and then 60 from 42 deliveries with Hansie Cronje.
Cronje appeared in a great form, hammering two sixes and three fours before being brilliantly caught by Rahul Dravid in the slips after cutting a rocketing ball straight at the fielder.
Mark Boucher joined Gibbs and they added 35 before the opener was out.
His dismissal, with South Africa on 161 for three in the 21st over, signaled a slow 20-over period as Boucher, Dale Benkenstein (24) and then Klusener consolidated to add a combined 72 runs.
When Klusener and Boucher opened up in the final stages, the Indians simply had no answer.
The two put on a best-ever South Africa's seventh-wicket partnership in less than an hour, surpassing the 76 between Cronje and Brian McMillan against India in Hyderabad in 1996.
Anil Kumble, who captured the wickets of Neil McKenzie (13) and Crookes, could not stem the flow. The right-arm wrist spinner finished with 2 for 61 from 10 overs.
Seamers Javagal Srinath (0 for 65) and Venkatesh Prasad (1 for 46) were even more expensive in their six overs each.
Only Tendulkar, who bowled in the middle period, proved economical with 1 for 31 from 10 overs.
The 320 total is South Africa's highest-ever against India in the one-day matches.
South Africa beats India by 10 runs
The complete scoreboard of India v. South Africa one-day cricket match
Gary Kirsten run out (Tendulkar) 1 Herschelle Gibbs run out (Sriram) 74 N McKenzie c Karim b Kumble 13 D Crookes b Kumble 14 Hansie Cronje c Dravid b Chopra 38 Mark Boucher c Kumble b Prasad 68 Dale Benkenstein b Tendulkar 24 Lance Klusener not out 75 Peter Strydom not out 0 Extras (legbyes 1, wides 2, no balls 10) 13 Total (wkts 7, 50 overs) 320
Fall of wickets: 1/9, 2/42, 3/66, 4/126, 5/161, 6/205, 7/319
Indian Bowling: Javagal Srinath 6-0-65-0 (1w 4nb), Venkatesh Prasad 6-1-46-1, Anil Kumble 10-0-61-2 (1w 4nb), Nikhil Chopra 10-0-57-1, S. Sriram 6-0-36-0 (1nb), Robin Singh 1-0-6-0, Sachin Tendulkar 10-0-31-1, Saurav Ganguly 1-0-17-0 (1nb)
Sachin Ganguly c Elworthy b Williams 6 Sachin Tendulkar c Elworthy b Crookes 93 Rahul Dravid run out (Strydom) 79 Ajay Jadeja b Elworthy 10 Sridharan Sriram c Boucher b Elworthy 12 Javagal Srinath c Strydom b Klusener 20 Robin Singh c Cronje b Klusener 29 Saba Karim c and b Klusener 22 Nikhil Chopra run out (Pollock) 3 Anil Kumble run out (Gibbs) 5 Venkatesh Prasad not out 0 Extras (b4 lb8 nb5 w14) 31 Total (all out) 310
Overs 48.5 Fall of wickets: 1/13, 2/193, 3/193, 4/214, 5/221, 6/259, 7/290, 8/304, 9/310
South African Bowling: Bowling: Williams 1,5-0-11-1 (6w), Crookes 10-1-69-1 (2nb 1w), McKenzie 0.1-0-0-0, Elworthy 8-0-50-2 (1nb 1w), Cronje 9,5-0-62-0 (5w), Klusener 9-0-59-3 (2nb), Strydom 10-0-47-0 (1w).
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